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January 27, 2011

Rickie Fowler


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Rickie Fowler into the interview room, after 7-under par 65. Rickie, great start to the tournament. If we could get some comments on your round, please.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, it's fun to be back. It's great to start here close to home at Farmers and Torrey. One of my favorite spots.
I got off to a good start. I buried 3 in a row my second through fourth hole on the back nine of the North course. Made a nice birdie on my second hole, and then followed that with a chip-in and a nice putt for birdie. So I got to see some putts go in and saw a chip go in early and that definitely helped my round. Actually topped it off with another chip-in on my front nine.
So two chip-ins, and I made the turn at 5-under. Left a couple out on my back nine. But got a lot out of the round and definitely pleased with my start.

Q. It had been a little while since you played. What was the state of your game at the beginning of the week?
RICKIE FOWLER: The beginning of the week it was a little up-and-down. Coming off of five weeks off is definitely nice to hang out in Florida and get some rounds in with buddies and just go mess around, basically. I got a lot of playing time in while I was down there.
So it was basically I didn't sit around and grind out my game and do a whole lot of practice, I just played. So, you know, it was basically getting back to tournament golf. So I wasn't hitting it very well last week and early this week and figured some things out.
I was good with the speed of the greens. The only thing today that was a little off was driving the ball. I didn't hit a whole lot of fairways, but I put myself on the right side of the fairway where I was able to still get on the green or get around and make pars.
So the game felt really good. And like I said, it was a bit up-and-down last week and early this week. So it was nice to get out, put up some birdies and put up a good round.

Q. Just wondering because it's the first round of the year if there's a little extra adrenaline and excitement of finally getting to play, and as you say in your tweets, like go time. How much more exciting is it to just have that first round of the year?
RICKIE FOWLER: Definitely I can feel the nerves. It's nice to be back to tournament golf. That's why I love to play. I love to compete, love to be in contention and love to play golf. So I definitely felt it out there. There are a few putts where it's nice to feel that feeling of a must-make par putt from five feet. It's something you don't always get playing with your buddies. But you get it every once in a while.
So, like I said, I played a lot this off-season. I was ready to play, had been playing a lot. Had a lot of rounds under my belt. But it's definitely nice to get the first round out of the way and definitely a good one.

Q. The stats on Golf Channel said you hit 5 of 14 fairways, I think. And we've heard a lot about how they've narrowed the fairways in spots. Was that a function of that or were you scuffling with the driver?
RICKIE FOWLER: A little bit of both. I keep my stats on my card as well. I counted five, so they're right.
But, yeah, I did miss a couple of fairways by a bit more than I should have. They did narrow up the fairways, they're tough, they're firm, and they're running. So if you do hit one down the middle, it's going to go a long ways.
Definitely they're going to bounce and run off into the rough, because like I said, they've narrowed them up a bit. So it is tough to hit fairways, and it's not easy to play some of the pin locations out of the rough?

Q. Have you worked much with Josh Anderson this week, and what's that like playing this tournament with him?
RICKIE FOWLER: We've been around each other a little bit. Obviously we're really good friends, played a lot of junior golf together, went to high school together.
I saw Josh after the round. He struggled a bit. I know he doubled the last hole to shoot 4 over. Not what I expected out of him. I wouldn't have been surprised if he went out and played well.
I'm not going to be surprised if he goes out and shoots 6 or 7-under tomorrow either. But, no, it's good for him to get some experience and see some of the PGA TOUR events.
Like I said, I wouldn't be surprised if he plays well, wouldn't be surprised if he's out here playing with me in a couple of years. So it's fun to be playing with him. It feels like we're back playing junior golf a little bit.

Q. When you look back on the '08 U.S. Open here, what stands out? What do you remember most?
RICKIE FOWLER: '08 U.S. Open, well, obviously the first round, being on the first page of the leaderboard was pretty cool. And then one of the things that I remember most is on 18, the last day, I had about 235 or 240 into 18 and knocked it right in the middle of the green when it was a little in the wind. It was a little further than I usually hit my hybrid. But I swung as hard as I could, and hit it as perfect as I could have. It was a cool way to finish off the '08 Open.

Q. Into the wind or downwind?
RICKIE FOWLER: Into the wind.

Q. Scores still seem to be low on the North course despite the narrower fairways, would you want that course to be more like the South, more difficult, and what do you think the difference is between them now?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I think the biggest difference between the two courses is length. The South course is definitely a little bit more demanding off the tee length-wise. There are a few holes where if you do hit it in the rough you're not going to be able to hit a long iron out of the rough. Whereas the North course you get a little bit more short irons and wedges.
And I don't think there's really any need to toughen up the North course. It played fairly tough today, and you know, if they're going to be two courses, I don't think there's any need for them to be too similar. To have a little bit different courses, one course you're going to get a little more scoring conditions where you get some more wedges in your hands. And then on the other hand, you go with the South course, and that's pretty much all you want.

Q. There's been a lot made, including the commissioner making a little bit of hay about the youth movement on the PGA TOUR, and you're obviously a focus of that. I'm just wondering if you felt in the off-season leading up to that if you felt there was more conversation about you and the younger guys, and if that was something you really liked and wanted to meet that kind of a challenge?
RICKIE FOWLER: There's definitely you can see a little bit more talk about it with the PGA TOUR commercials showing the veterans versus the rookies or kind of the young guns.
It's pretty cool to be a part of that elite group that they're showing. But there's a lot of guys out there, a lot of young guys playing well. There's a lot of young guys that are going to be out here pretty soon that you haven't heard about or seen on TOUR yet.
So it's pretty cool to be a part of the movement. And we're not scared to go out and play and definitely to be in contention.

Q. In keying with that theme, the three guys on top of the leaderboard, 22, 24, and 26, Kang and Alex Prugh are the other two. Do you know much about those guys, Sunghoon Kang and Alex Prugh?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't know much about Kang, but Alex and I spent a little bit of time last year together. Obviously he had a great run here on the west coast. I think he had three Top 10s in a row, and he seems to like the west coast. He did pretty well here last year. So not surprised to see him play well out here.
Like I said, it's not anything new for him. To see some of the young guys play well, obviously with Jhonattan Vegas winning last week, you know, we're out here and ready to play.

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